Modern Love Mumbai review: Anthology series have become quite common in the OTT space. For the people from the '90s, it's not a new format having grown up on Doordarshan's staple pack of short stories titled Mitti Ke Rang. Fortunately for us, these anthology series have been decent enough to be watched at least once. In case of Modern Love Mumbai, it's more of an anthology of moments rather than the shorts as in totality, none of the stories give you an exhilarating feeling. Modern Love Mumbai Song Mausam Hai Pyaar: Nikhil D’Souza’s Number From Amazon Prime Video’s New Anthology Show Is Heartwarming (Watch Video).
Alankrita Srivastava's My Beautiful Wrinkles opens the series with a story about a middle-aged woman Dilbar (Sarika) navigating her feelings for a 20-something man Kunal (Danes Razvi). Baai, by Hansal Mehta, sees Manzu (Pratik Gandhi) yearning to live a life of his choice as a gay man and then love happens to him in the form of Ranveer (Ranveer Brar). I Love Thane, directed by Dhruv Sehgal, has Saiba (Masaba Gupta) swiping right on Parth (Ritwik Bhowmik) in Thane of all places. Raat Rani by Shonali Bose is a woman's (Fatima Sana Shaikh) realisation that she is enough for herself while Cutting Chai, by Nupur Asthana searches love in a love marriage and Vishal Bhardwaj's Mumbai Dragon mixes Chinese flavour with Indian designs.
If we have to rank the shorts from best to not-so-good, Bose's Raat Rani takes the top post while it's a tie between Bhardwaj's Mumbai Dragon and Asthana's Cutting Chai as the weakest one.
Srivastava's My Beautiful Wrinkles isn't anything different from what we have seen so far in the context of mature love. The reason it works for us is because there's no over dramatisation of the fondness between two people who are a few decades apart. It starts well to show Dilbar's reservations about falling in love at this age but it's very fleetingly mentioned. It could have been so much more but stops at being just a minor upgrade on the rest of the content in similar setup.
Mehta's Baai could have been easily called 'Baai ko sab pata hai' (Baai knows everything). Tanuja who plays Baai, is just confined to her chair due to her declining health condition and makes fleeting appearances to dote on her grandkid Manzu. The short doesn't really give any fresh perspective to the struggles of being a gay man in India. The biggest takeaways here are the two songs - "Lab pe ikk baat badi" and Sonu Nigam's "Kaisi baat karte ho". They are soothing melodies, something that's hard to come by these days. Also, Baai's response to the question on how she drove off the rioters, "Paise diye, chale gaye."
Sehgal's I Love Thane has two things working in its favour - it captures the emotion of a Mumbaikar who travels to Thane for work and Ritwik. Sehgal gets the 'Oh god! Thane kaun jayega?' (Who will go to Thane?) sentiment bang on. Ritwik is just getting better with every series and it feels really good to see a talent ripening so well. Apart from that, it doesn't really have anything more to add.
Raat Rani by Bose is about all those women who are forced to come out of their shell. This short is the best one here because all of us have felt this liberation from our hangups and took a flight of freedom. Mumbai is the reason that happened because in this city, there's no place for quitters. But it doesn't give enough credit to the city. A woman is riding a bicycle in the middle of the night without a care in the world. In India, that happens only in Mumbai and yet it didn't get that glorious mention. That's a disservice, if you ask us. Modern Love Mumbai: Alankrita Shrivastava Explains Title of Her Story in Amazon Show.
Vishal Bhardwaj's Mumbai Dragon seems lost. Whether the director intended to give representation to the community of Chinese migrants here or tell a story of clashing views, you can't be too sure. It suddenly talks about Sino-Indian war, then becomes a typical story of a family's aversion to marrying out of the community to a Indian born Chinese's interest to become a singer, abandoning his profession as a dentist. One ace up Bharadwaj's sleeve is the track "Raat bhar hijr mein", sung by Meiyang Chang.
Nupur Asthana's Cutting Chai, starring Arshad Warsi and Chitrangada Singh, attempts to project the 'What if' fantasies in our heads but doesn't reach anywhere.
The biggest grouse however is the shorts fail to capture Mumbai and its essence. It's supposed to be a character here but not enough credit is given to the city. Except perhaps for I Love Thane, all other shorts can be based in any other city and they would feel the same. Mumbai is more than just local trains and slums. Mumbai is an emotion and we couldn't feel it!
Watch the trailer of Modern Love Mumbai
Performance wise, we already showered praises on Ritwik. He doesn't have an extraordinary characterisation but his portrayal is so sincere you get drawn to it. Next is Fatima Sana Shaikh, she is a revelation here. From her dialect to body language to that winning smile, she rocked it! Gandhi looks a bit rehearsed while Brar is plain okay. Warsi and Singh have good chemistry and that's about it. Masaba should do more urban roles, she does a neat job.
-Shonali's Bose's short Raat Rani
-Fatima Sana Shaikh
-None of the stories are extraordinary
Don't compare Modern Love Mumbai with the original Modern Love that's based on the weekly column of the same name in The New York Times and you will be fine! Modern Love Mumbai streams on Amazon Prime Video.
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on May 13, 2022 09:53 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).